How Did Shakespeare Portray the Concept of Honor in Henry Iv Part 1

Topics: Henry V of England, Henry IV of England, William Shakespeare Pages: 3 (1085 words) Published: March 26, 2013
How did Shakespeare portray a concept of honour in Henry IV part 1? In this world, there exists, since the dawn of civilisation of mankind, a thing that we are fighting and dying for—that is honour. Shakespeare explores the theme of honour in Henry IV part 1 in a rather interesting way by having it presented in a different form varying from character to character. Henry IV wants to protect his honour by using any means available to vanquish the rebels, his sinful act to King Richard also keeps haunting him and shakes his own faith in his honour. While his son’s dishonourable acts in the beginning of the play wearies him further. Superficially, one may think Prince Hal is a typical young slacker whose life has been fully lured by the glamorous but immoral world of liquor,gambling, prostitution and crime, the truth is, unbeknownst to anyone, the prince is scheming to reform himself from an idler into a more responsible and competent heir to the throne. Here, his vision of honour of behaving like the royal is an impetus for him to seek new behaviour which will bring him more merits, making him an honourable figure the status he deserves. Or Hotspur, honour is everything, ironically more valuable than his wife. His excess obsession of honour induces many political mistakes, most notably his decision to confront the king at Shreswbury despite having less number of troops. In other words, Hotspur’s passion for honour blinds him from the reality. For all his chivalry and valor in the battle, Hotspur is proved to fail at being a military strategis as well as effective leader. It is none other than the lazy, unscrupulous and coward Sir Falstaff whose existence in the play represents the values that totally oppose the fore-mentioned concepts of honour. His disenchanted view on honour can make the audiences see that the reason behind other characters’ action are single-minded and irrational or more poignantly worthless. Overall, the exhilaration of the play partially...
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